Imagine a map with a grid overlay. The aim is to cycle through the boundary line(s) of each square. Let’s call those squares, tiles. The total number of connecting tiles equals the maximum cluster. A square-shaped cluster of tiles equals the maximum square. The aim being to explore and ride new routes. Doing so will increase the number of tiles bagged, the size of the overall cluster and size of the maximum square. It will also take you places you have not been before. That’s the best part.
As seen above the green and purple tiles represent all the tiles whose boundary lines have been crossed – tiles bagged. The purple tiles represent those in the maximum cluster. The purple tiles framed into a square by a blue line represent the maximum square. Simple huh?
Back at the start of 2016 I posted Cycling goals for 2016 with added Veloviewer explorer tiles. The plan then was to cover Kent in green tiles. At the time there was no grid overlay when mapping routes. You just saw what you had completed on the Veloviewer route page of rides completed without a link to a routing function. That changed in the latter half of 2016 when Veloviewer added the functionality to their Chrome Plugin for Strava. This made the task of mapping routes to touch uncovered tiles a simple thing. Something I only discovered quite recently.
Here is how it looks in Strava Route planner –
As you can see I have mapped a route to cover unvisited tiles on the Isle of Sheppey. Some may wonder why given what local knowledge they may have but that is another topic entirely. It does though illustrate how easy it is to plan routes which will take you places you have not been before. New and novel experiences. What’s not to love about that?
There are tiles which are mostly off-road. You may need to ride down muddy trails and across fields to get them. In such instances it is good to know when you have gone far enough before turning back and returning to smoother ground. Maps.me will help you with this. You can download the KML file generated by Veloviewer and upload it to the Maps.me app on your phone which will display the same overlay of unvisited tiles you see on the Strava Route Mapping page. This way you can check in real-time out in the field if and when you have passed the tile boundary helping to prevent disappointment when you get home.
So now I go on planning new routes, bagging explorer tiles, increasing my cluster and maximum square. The pleasure comes from discovering new routes and scenes in an area I felt I already knew well. There is an addictive quality to it however I can think of worse things I could be addicted to. It’s taking me a bit longer to cover Kent than I thought back in January 2016 but things have sped up considerably since I discovered all the since developed routing options.
On the day of posting this blog my Explorer score was: 11198 tiles | average of 3.993 mi per tile | Max square 18×18 | Max Cluster: 738. There are those with more and many with less but this is personal and not about competing – that’s what Strava KOMS and segments are for! Just one thing more to consider in getting those hard to reach tiles surrounded by water; should I go for a kayak or packraft???